By April Joseph
The reading on March 19, 2013 for the Symposium on Territory, co-curated by Bhanu Kapil and Michelle Naka Pierce, and featured Craig Santos Perez, Kass Fleisher, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, and Juliana Spahr.
With “tongue in hand” (Spahr) I scribbled fiercely into my notebook: Sueyeun Juliette Lee opened the house with the questions: “What is Korea?” “Are we strange to ourselves?” Lee’s approach and delivery of words brought to life the notion of “what it means to be alive—[always] becoming.”
As I note the many fragments in my notebook taken over the course of the two day symposium, I consider how Lee’s creative work reflects her lecture: “[Korea is] marked on my body—face.” Lee also left me stunned with, “What is a map? A photograph.”
Kass Fleisher’s powerful performance left the Performing Arts Center humming as though a nest of birds or bees swarmed into the building. Fleisher’s work in trauma studies illuminated the notion of community as witness and also encouraged the development or capacity to hear trauma narratives, as well as considering our ability to create a language for trauma to move through the system—body—community to remind, or cultivate the space to heal.
Juliana Spahr and Craig Santos Perez rounded out the second half of the reading. Spahr brought to light the words: “oil—child—police” to mind—I flashed to war—“invisible children”—which spilled into Perez’s thought provoking question: “Where does language become disembodied?” Admittedly, Perez, an indigenous writer from Guam (“Spam capital of the world”), was the highlight of the evening with his reading of a “hilarious” Spam-offering, which included a re-mix of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Bhanu Kapil closed with “Wham bam thank you Spam”—quoting recent JKS BA graduate, Anna Avery. All of the wonderful readers had such great attention to “territory” and the “disillusion of borders.”
april joseph came from California to study ancestral trauma and explore healing techniques such as Feeding Your Demons and poetry as an MFA student of JKS. april’s work has appeared in Bombay Gin, and collaborative chapbooks: Bellow, Heart-Lip Spider, and Forum. april and bello (her trusty side-kick) live in the mountain town of Black Hawk, CO.